Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

– the march of the Bronies continues apace – literally. We now have a thriving “military bronies” community, dedicated to adult My Little Pony fans, and a full range of customised guns to accessorise. (Military Times)

– a two-year-old cob in West Yorkshire managed to trap himself in an underground pump chamber for five whole days. Thankfully he’s now been liberated. The BBC has a video of the rescue. (Horse Talk, BBC)

– ‘”Think about it: They spend most of their lives with the world looking down on them,” Murray said. “Now they are up on top and above everybody. It is very empowering.”‘ Equine therapy in Houston. (Chron.com)

– A horse festival in Tajikistan. (Huffington Post)

– Zippy Chippy, a racehorse who couldn’t win a race to save his life is now saving lives by being a loser. (Washington Post)

– Kathleen Stiles on “How to Survive a European Horse Shopping Trip”. “Meals are all taken and enjoyed. However, some are at “tank stops,” or gas stations as they’re known in the United States. They are everywhere since one blows through expensive fuel at an alarming rate. But I am horrified. I am spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on horses and am lunching where I would not normally visit a restroom?” It’s another world… (Chronicle of the Horse)

– Paralympic dressage rider Lee Pearon’s kit in detail. (Guardian)

– Thank you to Anne Billson for a link to Amazon’s sale page for those rubbery horsehead masks. Happy purchasers have sent in an entire album of images of themselves making use of them. Have fun. (Amazon)

– in a year in which horses have unexpectedly taken centre stage in politics, from David Cameron’s rides on Rebekah Wade’s old police horse to Rafalca Romney, we have the first dressage-based political broadcast:

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

I was away! Things happened! But first – a round up of curious happenings in the horse world!

  • Looks like I got rid of the virtual racing stable I ran in the early 1990s far too early. An unraced imaginary horse from the Digiturf game has just been sold for $5,225. Yes, not only is it nonexistent, it’s also unproven. $5,225. You could get a real racehorse for a lot less. ESPN reports.
  • The Guardian’s dance critic was dispatched to review para-dressage: “With their tightly plaited manes and long ballerina necks, they perform tightly controlled pirouettes and piaffes with impressive finesse; they float across the arena with a silken stride that is like a horsey grand jeté.”
  • An Australian study suggests that Monty Roberts’ methods should be re-assessed. (Horse Talk). UPDATE: Monty responds with a link to an earlier peer-reviewed study of his methods from Anthrozoology.
  • A riding school in Kenya thrives, thanks to its enterprising owner. (BBC).
  • Yahoo has a mighty fine photo gallery of an Icelandic horse round up. Iceland: a nation where horse shoes are sold at garages. MSNBC has sulky racing on the north German coast.
  • The Bloggess brings us the worst example of equine taxidermy I’ve yet seen – and I love bad taxidermy. It’s meant to be a falabella.
  • Kazakhstan is shipping its own horse-meat sausages to London for its Olympic Team. (The Atlantic)
  • As a US Senate hearing calls for stricter rules concerning drug use in horse racing, the New York Times gets hold of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another’s vet sheet. The colt had been battling tendon problems and osteoarthritis for some time before he even began his Triple Crown bid. That’s an unsound horse, racing on dirt at the highest level. Since the NYT’s report, other racing figures have come forward to say this is no big deal and in fact, common and legitimate. (New York Times).
  • Meanwhile, here’s a less depressing NYT blog post on using dressage to train both competing and retired racehorses. (NYT)
  • Riding school ponies stolen in area of Florida notorious for blackmarket horse-meat slaughters. (CBS Local).
  • And so that we don’t end on a bum note, here’s North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s girlfriend, Hyon Song-Wol, singing her smash hit “Excellent Horse-like Lady” or “A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed”. Enjoy.

Para-hunting

“Lady Harrington lost the sight of one eye following a bad fall on the head. She rode in point-to-points despite the accident and had another fall on the head. She proved remarkably lucky: on opening her eyes she found that the second fall had restored the sight to her damaged eye.

Women hunted with worse disabilities than the loss of sight in one eye. One hunted with the Pytchley even though she had been born without hands and Lady Downshire lost a leg but continued to go remarkably well to hounds.”

Ladies of the Chase, by Meriel Buxton, 1987.

Sidesaddle at the Olympics

I promise I’ll write about something other than sidesaddle soon, but I couldn’t resist these two snippets:

1) The brilliant Italian écuyère Elvira Guerra competed sidesaddle in the “hacks and hunters combined event” (photo of her here) at the 1900 Paris Olympics – a non-Olympic event, to be sure, but it wasn’t until 1952 that women were allowed to ride at the Games proper, and then only in dressage, when Lis Hartel of Denmark took an individual silver at Helsinki. Hartel was also the first paralympic rider. At the time she was paralysed below the knees – the last remnant of a severe polio attack she’d suffered eight years earlier at the age of 23, when, to cap it all, she was pregnant. She also took silver at the next games. Read about Lis and the foundation in her name at this link, and see photos of her at Simply Marvellous.

2) During my sidesaddle lesson, my teacher, Sarah Walker, explained that each sidesaddle was made to fit an individual rider and horse, and that the name and measurements of both were usually written on the saddle tree. Blogger Sidesaddle Girl investigated her own late-nineteenth century saddle and discovered not only where it was made, but also a portrait of its owner, a glamorous socialite. Read all about it here.

3) And via Sidesaddle Girl, here’s a young woman trying eventing aside:

Hunting Spirit

WHEN Caroline Smail heads off to take part in the Boxing Day meet of the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds today, she’ll be hoping that Jigsaw, her cheeky gelding, just over 14 hands high, doesn’t play up too much. Earlier this summer, in a tussle with that much loved pony, who was trying to munch through a hedge, her foot got caught in a bramble. Unfortunately, for Caroline, in the ensuing scramble, her entire left leg fell off.

‘It really isn’t as bad as it sounds,’ says Caroline, who is 30, and runs a PR business from her Gloucestershire cottage. ‘My left leg is a prosthetic and it is always coming off at awkward moments. All I could do was sling it over the front of the saddle and head home. Unluckily, a van drove round the corner at that point; the driver took one look at me riding along with a false leg thrown across the saddle and crashed into the hedge too. I felt awful for him, but you have to see the funny side.’

From the Telegraph.